Insider’s Viewpoint: How to Keep Fun + Festive in Your Healthy Holidays
The holidays are right around the corner and we can’t stop ourselves from thinking of indulging in all of the delicious treats! It is so easy to let healthy eating fly out the window (believe me, I know the struggle is real). I’m not saying you can’t have treats, but here are a few simple tricks to help you watch portions and make sure you are still including fruits and vegetables in a fun and festive way!
11 Ways to Keep It Healthy Over the Holidays
- Before the Party. Have a nutritious snack prior to the party that includes complex carbs, protein and a healthy fat, such as a hummus with whole grain crackers and veggies or even just a yogurt.
- Pick Your Battles. Save extra calories for the holiday foods you enjoy most.
- Small Plate. When you get to the party, and are gathering your plate of food, begin with a salad-sized plate; it will look fuller with less on your plate.
- Veggies First. Start out with a salad and other vegetable and fruit dishes before eating the other foods. This will help to curb your hunger and you will eat less of the other not so healthy items. What party doesn’t have a fruit and vegetable tray? And make a dip to go with them to keep it fun!
- Protein. Make sure to get some protein as well; this will keep your fuller longer.
- Sodium. Don’t forget it is not all about fat and calories, it is also about sodium. Many of our favorite holiday foods are weighed down with umpteen amounts of sodium. Is your face puffy? Do you feel your pants fitting tighter? Yes, that could mean you’re gaining weight, but it also could mean you’ve taken in too much sodium the day before.
- Avocados! Instead of cheese, try avocado slices. Avocados are creamy, just like cheese, but without the saturated fat. They also have heart-healthy fats.
- Lots of Water. Drink water and avoid sugary drinks. Instead of egg nog, opt for cold apple cider. Did you know that egg nog has about 200 calories for a HALF CUP, that’s right a half cup, not even 1 cup!! Or switch to 100% apple juice (this counts as a serving a fruit, and no added sugar) warm it up and add a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange!
- Healthy Requests. Encourage family and friends to bring healthy options to holiday gatherings. If they want to bring a dessert encourage them to substitute the egg and or fat and oil with unsweetened applesauce or black beans (this especially works in brownies) and now they have included a fruit or a vegetable making you dessert more nutritious.
- Visual Appeal. Finally don’t sit by the food stand, walk around this will also help you to burn calories.
- Chew Gum. This will keep your mouth busy instead of constantly thinking of what to eat next.
Happy Holidays to you and your family and friends this season! I hope you are able to use these tips to ensure a great holiday full of fruits and vegetables.
Now here are some fun and festive ways to include more fruits and vegetables at those holiday parties…
Cheesy Zucchini Bites
They’re red, green and white for a reason: they make the perfect pal at your next holiday shindig. In less than 30 minutes, you can make Christmas holiday and delicious appetizer go together as well as black leggings and knee-high boots.
- 5 medium zucchini (about 6 inches long)
- 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Cut zucchini into 3/4-inch slices. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the insides and discard, leaving the bottom intact. Place zucchini on an ungreased baking sheet; spoon ½ teaspoon crumbled blue cheese into each.
- Combine the Parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper; sprinkle half over blue cheese. Top each with a tomato slice; sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan mixture. Bake at 400°F until cheese is melted, 5-7 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 35 appetizers.
Recipe Source: DietToGo.com
Ashley Kibutha, RD, LD
Supermarket Registered Dietitian